GABRIEL’S MESSAGE was the message brought to Mary at the Annunciation (commemorated on March 25), that God would become man.
AND the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Gospel According to St Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-38.
“He takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity“
In wonder at the paradox of the Nativity, which we celebrated on Christmas Day, St Gregory the Theologian (4th century) wrote these beautiful lines:
HE who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity.
He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness.
What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me?
I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. […]
We needed God to take our flesh and die, that we might live.
We have died with him, that we may be purified.
We have risen again with him, because we have died with him.
We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.
“Today the Virgin beareth him that is beyond all things“
By becoming man, God shows that it is his loving purpose to dwell in every one of us, if we will have him. He brings heaven to earth, and earth to heaven.
TODAY the Virgin beareth him that is beyond all things,
and earth offereth to him that is unapproachable a cave.
Angels and shepherds give glory, wise men follow a star;
for our sake, a young child is born,
even he that was before the ages.
“Rejoice, therefore, and dance for joy“
In each one of us, Christ will take what is broken and dishonoured and dissolving into corruption, and make it glorious, whole, and everlasting. Jacob of Serug in the 5th century explained, addressing Mary herself:
REJOICE, therefore, and dance for joy; rejoice, and tread upon the serpent’s head.
Rejoice, full of grace. For the curse has come to an end; corruption is taken away; sadness has passed; happiness is flowering; the blessing ever foretold by the prophets of old has come to pass. You are the one to whom the Holy Spirit referred, speaking through the mouth of Isaiah: ‘Behold, the Virgin shall conceive in her womb and bear a son’ (Isaiah 7.14). You are that virgin.
Rejoice, therefore, O full of grace. You are pleasing to the Fashioner of all things; you are pleasing to the Maker; you are pleasing to the Creator; you are pleasing to Him who delights in the beauty of souls. You have found a Spouse who will protect your virginity instead of corrupting it; you have found a Spouse who wants to become your Son because of His great love for men.
The Lord is with you! He who is everywhere is in you; He is with you, and He comes from you, the Lord in heaven, the Most High in the abyss, the Creator of all, Creator above the cherubim, Charioteer above the seraphim, Son in the womb of the Father, Only-begotten in your womb, the Lord – He alone knows how – entirely everywhere and entirely in you.
Blessed are you among women!
This blog tries to express everything in terms of prayers. The only true theology is prayer of the heart.
IT IS not a knowledge which you acquire by learning, but a knowledge which you acquire by suffering. This is Orthodox spirituality.
Below are some lines from the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, sung in Lent and in some monasteries also on every Friday of the year. The video above is taken from the same service.
A PRINCE of the angels was sent from heaven, to say to the Mother of God, ‘Hail!’ [Three times]
And as, at his bodiless voice, he saw you, Lord, embodied, he was astounded and stood still, crying out to her like this:
Hail, you through whom joy will shine out,
Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam,
Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts,
Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels’ eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King,
Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.
Hail, star that makes visible the Sun,
Hail, womb of divine incarnation.
Hail, you through whom creation is renewed.
Hail, you through whom the Creator becomes a babe.
Hail, Bride without bridegroom. […]
Wishing to save the world, the One who orders all things came to it of his own free will. And as God, being shepherd, for our sake he appeared as a man like us. For having called like to Like, as God he hears:
From the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God. Translation by Fr Ephrem Lash, at Anastasis.
And so we sing:
IT IS truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos;
ever blessed, and most pure, and the Mother of our God.
More honorable than the cherubim,
and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim.
Without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify thee.
Christmas Liturgy Video
Below, you can see a professionally produced video of a Christmas night service in Serbia, from 2009. Beautiful music, and a delightful atmosphere, with occasional commentary in Serbian. It is followed by links to the rest of the service.
Christmas in Serbia (Part 1)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 2)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 3)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 4)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 5)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 6)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 7)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 8)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 9)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 10)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 11)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 12)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 13)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 14)
See also: The Protection of the Mother of God.